Although the hyperreal operates as its own type of reality, this does not mean that its provenance is divorced from the material conditions in which we live. The fact that the images that the media project can be readily identified as “representations,” rather than the truth of the matter, works to further mask the political, social, and cultural interests involved. At the same time, these images have the force of reality and serve as a conduit of meaning. No doubt, viewers can recognize the Arab terrorists in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film True Lies (1994) as fictional characters (“It’s just a movie!”), but these images undoubtedly reinforce, if not substantively inform, American viewers’ notions of Islam and the U.S.-Middle East conflict.
from Jane Naomi Iwamura’s Virtual Orientalism